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- Volkswagen and Audi will begin reporting US sales quarterly instead of by the month, both effective immediately.
- While the first monthly reports of the year will come out in a few days, Volkswagen and Audi will hold out until April under their new quarterly systems.
- The moves follow and industry trend begun by General Motors in 2018, which Porsche most recently joined last week.
- Other automakers are likely to follow the trend, which an analyst said could lead to “less transparency” and “an information gap” in the auto industry.
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Volkswagen and Audi are moving to quarterly US sales reports in lieu of publishing the numbers by the month, joining an industry migration to publishing fewer reports throughout the year – even if that means less transparency about their performance.
Volkswagen announced the move on Thursday, just before the end January and the subsequent first monthly reports of the year. Automotive News reported Audi’s switch to quarterly updates on the same day, meaning both Audi and Volkswagen will put out their first reports of the year in April instead of in a few days. The move mirrors a trend that started in 2018 and will likely spread across the rest of the industry, just as it did when automakers migrated from 10-day reports to monthly ones in the 1990s.
Volkswagen’s chief sales and marketing officer for the North American region, Werner Eichhorn, said in a statement that while the US car industry has “long seen itself in 30-day cycles,” it’s “hard to argue anymore that a monthly snapshot offers the most effective look at [the] business.” The company believes quarterly reporting, Eichhorn said, will “provide a clearer, more consistent picture of brand and market performance.”
Audi of America gave a similar spiel, with the company’s president, Daniel Weissland, saying it’s time for “a move that will provide a more transparent look at our business as we consider our long-term strategic goals.”
“Increased consistency from quarterly reporting versus reporting on a shorter term strengthens our operations, which ultimately benefits our dealer partners and our customers,” Weissland said.
Audi and Volkswagen are the latest automakers to join the movement to quarterly reports for US sales, begun in April 2018 by General Motors. The other two members of the Detroit Big Three, Fiat Chrysler and Ford, joined soon after, and Porsche hopped on board last week. (Porsche is part of the larger Volkswagen Group, as are the Volkswagen and Audi brands.)
All had similar reasoning, as if pulled from the same basket – Porsche said monthly reports “rarely capture the overall picture of how our business is developing,” GM argued that they don’t give “enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in a very dynamic, highly competitive market,” Ford noted the “volatility” in monthly numbers, and FCA said quarterly reports would “continue to provide transparency … while at the same time aligning with where industry practice is heading.”
But an Autotrader executive analyst, Michelle Krebs, told Automotive News upon GM’s switch that quarterly reporting could lead to “less transparency” and “an information gap” resulting in more speculation errors. The change entirely benefits automakers, though, as reporting once every four months not only hides month-to-month volatility, but also makes news about companies’ sales less frequent if they are indeed poor.
Plenty of carmakers are still reporting monthly for now, with names like Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Subaru, Infiniti, Nissan, and Hyundai all publishing by the month as of December. But the future of car sales doesn’t look great worldwide as we reach a concept dubbed “peak car,” which is exactly what it sounds like – a compelling reason to consider reporting sales less often.
And if this quarterly trend continues for US sales, that’s exactly what automakers will be doing.